Halloween Traditions

halloween

Halloween is believed to have originated with the Celtic festival of Samhain. People would light bonfires and put on costumes to fend off ghosts. Pope Gregory III designated November 1st as a day to honor all saints and martyrs in the eighth century. Known as All Saints Day, some of the traditions of Samhain were incorporated into the day. The night before was known as All Hallows’ Eve which evolved into Halloween.

Here’s how some of today’s traditions began.

Jack-O-Lanterns
Jack-o-lanterns originated in Ireland where they were made with turnips, not pumpkins. They’re based on a legend of a man named Stingy Jack who trapped the Devil and made him promise Jack would never go to Hell. But Jack died and found heaven didn’t want him either and he was condemned to wander the earth. Jack carried around in a turnip a lump of burning coal given to him by the Devil. People soon carved faces into gourds of their own to ward off evil spirits like Jack.

Ghosts
The ancient Celtic festival of Samhain marked the beginning of a new year. Bonfires were built to ward off the ghosts.

Trick-or-Treating
There are lots of ideas about where this tradition came from. The Celtic people would leave out food to satisfy the ghosts. In Scotland children and poor adults would go to homes in search of food in exchange for offering prayers said for the dead. In German-American communities children would dress in costumes and call on their neighbors to see if the adults could guess their identities. Children were rewarded with food or treats if no one could guess their identity.

Bobbing for Apples
Bobbing for Apples dates all the way back to ancient Rome and a festival in honor of Pamona, the goddess of agriculture and abundance.

Those are just a few of today’s Halloween traditions. What are your favorite customs and traditions?

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Smile

smile

It’s World Smile Day

The first Friday of October is celebrated as World Smile Day. Probably because we all tend to smile a little more on Fridays.

It was initiated by Harvey Ball, a commercial artist known for creating the Smiley Face in 1963. The first World Smile Day was held in 1999 and has continued every year. When Ball died in 2001 the Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation was created to honor his name and memory. The Foundation carries on the work of “improving this world, one smile at a time.”

So, smile today.

It won’t cost you anything but you might get something in return.

Boo!

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It’s October. It’s the scary season.

Haunted houses, or trails, or park events are a lot scarier than they used to be. But many people love it and millions of dollars are spent each year on Halloween decorations, costumes, candy and tickets to scare events.

If you’re in the Richmond, Virginia area, here are some great opportunities to be scared out of your socks.

The two biggest are associated with the nearby amusement parks.

Halloween Haunt at Kings Dominion
Recommended for ages 13 and above
Weekends through October 31.

Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Not appropriate for young children.
Weekends through October 31.

Blood Lake Haunted Trail
Blood Lake Haunted Trail in Midlothian has three haunted trails to experience. Opens October 7 and continues Fridays and Saturdays through October 31.

Creepy Hollow Scream Park
Experience Scream Forest in Glen Allen. Opens October 7. Dates vary.

Haunted Evenings at Ashland Berry Farm
What’s not to love about Booger Woods? October 1-31. Select nights, mostly weekends.

RVA Fright Nights at Chesterfield Berry Farm
Open for the season beginning September 30

Red Vein Haunted House at Hanover Vegetable Farm
Not for children under 13. Opens October 14.

If you’re not frightened yet it’s not because you don’t have the opportunity.

What’s the deal with New Year’s resolutions?

Start on January 1

 

New Year’s Resolutions? Do you make them? Do you break them?

Humans have been making resolutions to start the new year since the Babylonians made promises to their gods that they would pay their debts and return borrowed objects. The Romans would make promises to the god Janus, and Medieval knights would reaffirm their commitment to chivalry.

Most people these days resolve to eat less and exercise more. Or maybe it’s to spend less and read more.

Regardless of the resolution, tradition dates back for centuries. But unlike certain earlier beliefs there’s nothing magical about the calendar turning from December 1 to January 1. It’s just a good time for new beginnings.

Whether you call them resolutions, or goals, or just put them on your to-do list, January is a good place to start.

What are your resolutions for the year?

Five Golden Rings

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Today is the Fifth Day of Christmas.

No, you don’t have to put your tree back up, but just be aware that the season isn’t over.

Most traditional Christmas celebrations go through January 6, known as the Epiphany or Feast of Lights. Adherance to different calendars between Catholic Rome and Protestant Great Britain meant that for a while Christmas day ws celebrated on January 6 and was thus known as “Old Christmas.” It is traditionally believed to be the day that the Magi visited the Christ child.

In reality, the visit was probably some two years after the birth of the child. But traditions being what they are, the three kings wound up at the stable.

In most Western Churches Christmas Day is actually considered the First Day of Christmas and in many churches these twelve days are also known as Christmastide. The twelve days have actually been celebrated since before the Middle Ages.

Most Americans are familiar with the song the Twelve Days of Christmas, but many confuse the days as being the days leading up to December 25. In the 1990s a story began circulating the Internet that said the song was written as a way to teach the Catechism to Catholic Children in the days when they were being persecuted by the Protestants, but there is no evidence to substantiate this claim. Still, it’s a nice story.

Today is the fifth day of Christmas, the day of Five Golden Rings.

See also:

Snopes.com: No, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was not created as a coded reference to important articles of the Christian faith.

According to PNC Wealth Management the cost of purchasing the twelve days’ worth of gifts in 2015 would be $34,131.

Five New Year’s Eve Blogs We Love

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Fast away the old year passes. And, you’re running out of time to make New Year’s Eve plans. Here are five blog posts we love that talk about New Year’s Eve.

Confused about what to wear? Lauren Conrad gives her Guide to New Year’s Eve Party Dressing.

U.S. News and World Report offers 6 Ideas for a Fun and Frugal new Year’s Eve.
You don’t have to spend a lot to ring in 2016.

While it’s a post from 2014, Somerton Dwelling Still has some ideas for a Memorable New Year’s Eve Party.

New Year’s Eve Blog
It might be a little late for 2015, but this blog talks about celebrations and opportunities to bring in the New Year all around the world.

And, if you’re in the Central Virginia area, we can’t help but remind you about this unique New Year’s Eve event like none other. Fairies and Gentlemen is a game within a party within a play. Tickets are still available.

Have a safe and prosperous New Year!